PGC Offers Trapping Tips
Inside the Outdoors, November 12, 2010

To my knowledge, I have never written about trapping. To be perfectly honest, I’ve have become knowledgeable about hunting, thanks to such organizations as Kingston Veterans Sportsmen and Laurel Highlands Pheasants Forever, but nothing about trapping.

Recently, the Pennsylvania Game Commission released information concerning tips for the trapper that I thought I’d pass along which may be educational to the sportsman.

According to Dan Lynch, Game Commission Southeast Region Wildlife Education Specialist, “There something here for everyone, regardless of your level of experience or familiarity with trapping furbearers.”

And so without further ado, let me begin.

  • Scouting Matters: “Pre-season and in-season scouting are critically important to any trapline.” That’s not only true for trapping, but any kind of hunting as well. If one knows where the game is hanging out, it makes it easier to harvest a number of them.
  • Blowing in the Wind: “When choosing trapset locations,” Lynch points out, “make sure to use the wind to your advantage. If a furbearer cannot smell your attractant, it may pass within a few feet of your set and never take a step toward it.” He went on to say, “Most furbearers are curious, and if they detect the bait, urine or lure you’re using to attract them, they’ll come closer to investigate. The wind will help pull in the furbearers by carrying attractant’s smell further than it would emanate on its own in a still night air, especially in cold weather.”
  • Every 24: Legally, trappers must check their traps every 36 hours. Most trappers, however, check their traps every 24 hours. “Experienced trappers know that it’s best to check traps earlier to ensure captured furbearers stay in the trap; and the captured furbearer spends no more time restrained than necessary, Lynch said.
  • Swivel Action: The experienced trapper suggested, “Adding swivels to your trap’s chain – as well as shortening and center-mounting the chain to the trap frame directly beneath the jaws – will reduce escapes.”
  • Sweet Treats: If one is trapping raccoons, it is recommended that grape jelly, anise oil or peanut butter be used.
  • Rock Solid: “Traps set afield for furbearers work best when they are seated solidly in a trap bed. Lynch recommends packing dirt around the trap or place a stone or small stick under the trap’s jaw to keep it from moving. “Traps must be immobile to be effective.”
  • Ask First: I don’t care if one is a hunter, fisherman, or trapper. This is what is called a rule of respect. “Ask a landowner for permission to trap, even if he or she doesn’t have the land posted.”
  • On the Blind: Lynch advised that “Another great way to take raccoons and mink in areas where using bait may lead to the capture of a non-target animals is using ‘blind’ trail sets.” These are placed where these animals are forced to enter, such as rocks, trees, or bridge abutments. According to Lynch, “These sets are especially effective on furbearers that have learned to stay away from bait sets.”
  • Any Trap Won’t Do: Use a trap that is intended for a specific animal. Before the unit is purchased, make sure specifications are given to the dealer to insure purchasing proper devices.
  • Out of Sight: Keep skinned carcasses out of sight. It is not pleasing to the eyes of passers-by. And another thing, carcasses should be disposed by way of one’s curbside pickup, or at an approved waste or rendering facility.
  • Protection Precautions: Always use latex gloves to prevent coming in touch with any body fluids from the animals. Rabies, which continues to pose a health threat in many counties, is transmitted when a furbearer’s body fluids enter a person’s body through a cut or body opening. Lynch stated to not take risks when approaching trapped animals to dispatch them. Always maintain a safe distance from captured furbearers and handle the catches with gloved hands.

Well, he did it. I just received word that Latrobe’s Master-archer, Lou Sartoris got his two doe of the season, the second most recently Nov. 2. This makes it his 14th consecutive year that this entrepreneur has gotten one or usually more deer per season.

As of November 3, he was still looking for his buck. Congratulations my fine friend!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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